I always like to organize sticks and mallets so it's easy to keep matched pairs together. One easy way to do this is to use a permanent marker and draw a line or pattern around the stick. Make sure each pair has the same pattern in the same part of the stick. You can vary the color, spacing, or placement of the line so it's easy to find a matching pair. You can also use tape, but remember that this will affect the weight and feel of the stick or mallet.
Here are two quick tips to help make sure your students' instruments are in good working order.
1) Have a full set of mouthpieces readily available so you can play on students' instruments to make sure they are in good condition.
Sometimes young students don't realize that something is wrong (sticky pad, small leak, etc.), and they could develop bad habits as a result. By putting your own mouthpiece on the instrument and playing it yourself you can quickly assess the problem and recommend a repair.
2) Use a standard woodwind repair letter.
I created a letter that includes all the info students and parents need to get a repair done. It has checkboxes for common issues so I don't have to rewrite the same letter every time a student's instrument needs to be fixed. Oftentimes parents don't know what to do in this situation and the problem may persist. The letter is a great way to help students and parents, and also educate them a little about basic instrument care.
A couple years ago my colleague and I were looking for the easiest way to organize reeds for those moments right before rehearsal or a concert when a student suddenly needs one. It turns out the best solution was under $20 at Home Depot.
Welcome to The Band Teacher's Bag of Tricks! This blog will be a space to share thoughts and tips that have worked for me in my 17+ years of teaching band.
For starters, here is a tip for organizing percussion storage. Percussionists (myself included) are not always great at putting things away where they belong. A few years ago I had had enough and came up with a solution. Since then I have never had to worry about missing instruments or equipment.
I outlined space for each instrument in the percussion cabinet using masking tape. Then I taped pictures to label each section. Even the most disorganized percussionist could figure out where things went. You could easily do this on storage shelves if you don't have a percussion cabinet.
I also used a paint marker to label each sleeve of our large stick bag ("yarn, hard plastic, suspended cymbal, brushes," etc.). Now we don't have to worry about missing mallets since they always go back in the same place. I recommend using separate bags or cases for timpani mallets and bass drum beaters.
Bonus tip: I highly recommend having a case for smaller percussion instruments like tambourine, triangle, and triangle beaters. It sends your students a message that they are instruments that need to be cared for. Just like a trumpet goes in its case after rehearsal, so does the tambourine, triangle, etc. If you don't have cases already Steve Weiss Music has good quality cases that are not expensive at all. They are totally worth a few $ to prolong the life of your percussion instruments.
Tips for Band Teachers
Practical ideas for your elementary and middle school band class.